Horizontal layers of the soil, whose physical features, composition and age are distinct from those above and beneath, are referred to as 'soil horizons'. The naming of a horizon is based on the type of material of which it is composed. Those materials reflect the duration of specific processes of soil formation. They are labelled using a shorthand notation of letters and numbers which describe the horizon in terms of its colour, size, texture, structure, consistency, root quantity, pH, voids, boundary characteristics and presence of nodules or concretions. Few soil profiles have all the major horizons. Some may have only one horizon.
The exposure of parent material to favourable conditions produces mineral soils that are marginally suitable for plant growth. That growth often results in the accumulation of organic residues. The accumulated organic layer called the O horizon produces a more active soil due to the effect of the organisms that live within it. Organisms colonise and break down organic materials, making available nutrients upon which other plants and animals can live. After sufficient time, humus moves downward and is deposited in a distinctive organic surface layer called the A horizon.
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Famous quotes containing the words horizons and/or soil:
“While it may not heighten our sympathy, wit widens our horizons by its flashes, revealing remote hidden affiliations and drawing laughter from far afield; humor, in contrast, strikes up fellow feeling, and though it does not leap so much across time and space, enriches our insight into the universal in familiar things, lending it a local habitation and a name.”
—Marie Collins Swabey. Comic Laughter, ch. 5, Yale University Press (1961)
“The constant abrasion and decay of our lives makes the soil of our future growth.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)